The Insect Folk
by Margaret Warner Morley
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The Insect Folk







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DEAR CHILDREN,—The very best way to know the insects is to go and watch them. Watch them whenever you can, and each time you will find out something new. Books will help you, but you must watch, too. Look more than you read.

If you need to catch them, put them under a tumbler, and feed them and give them a drop of water every day to drink. Slip a card under the rim of the tumbler on one side so as to let in the air. If you do not know what to feed them, or if they will not eat, let them go after a day or two.

If you wish to kill an injurious insect, do it quickly and completely. Remember the insects are alive, and we should not make them suffer unnecessarily.

Of course you must try to make your captives feel at home. If they live in the sand, put sand in the tumbler and tie a piece of netting over the top so they cannot escape.

If they live in the water, put them in a tumbler of water. And when you have secured your captives, watch them as much as you can.

If you do not know how to pronounce the words in this book, study the glossary at the back and it will help you.

I hope you will have a very happy time getting acquainted with your little insect neighbors.


BOSTON, April 18, 1903.













































Come, children; come with me.

Come to a pond I know of.

See how the water shines in the sun.

Over there is an old log lying on the edge of the pond.

It is covered with green moss, and a green frog is sitting on one end of it.

Let us go and sit on the other end.

Goop! he says, and—plump! he has jumped into the water.

That is too bad, frog; we did not mean to disturb you.

How pretty it is here!

See the pickerel weed growing out in the water with its arrow-shaped leaves, and its spikes of purple flowers.

See, down in the water are little fish, and very likely pollywogs are there too, and lots of queer little things.

But who is this darting over the pond?

Ah, we know you.

You are our queer little, dear little old dragon fly.

Look, children; see the dragon flies darting about like flashes of light in every direction.

They are having such a good time.

Whizz! One flashed right past Mollie's ear.

Pretty people, I wish one of you would come and sit by us a little while, so we could get a good look at you.

What is that, Ned? You have found a large one lying on the ground?

Sure enough; it is a beauty too, with a green body and silver wings.

Something seems to be wrong with it; it does not fly nor try to get away.

What a big one it is!

My! my! what eyes!

Don't crowd, Amy; let little Nell see too.

What is that you say, Richard? "It catches mosquitoes and gnats and flies and other insects while flying."

Yes, and that is why it has such big eyes. We should need big eyes ourselves if we were to spend our time chasing mosquitoes.

Two eyes you have, little dragon fly, like the rest of us, but your eyes are not like ours.

No, indeed!

Each of your big eyes is made up of a great many small eyes packed close together.

Do you know, children, that some of the largest of the dragon flies have as many as twenty thousand facets, or small eyes, in each large eye?

Think of it! Forty thousand eyes in one little dragon fly head. It ought to see well.

These facets are six-sided, excepting those along the edge, which are rounded on the outside. You cannot see their real shape without a microscope, they are so small. But here is a picture of some facets as they look under the microscope.

Eyes like these, made up of many facets, we call compound eyes.

All grown-up insects have compound eyes, though not many have as large ones as the dragon fly.

Only insects that chase other insects or that need to see in the dark have very large eyes.

See what a big mouth the dragon fly has. Its jaws do not show unless it opens its lower lip, which fits over its mouth like a mask.

I should not care to have it bite my finger.

It could not hurt very much, and its bite is not poisonous, still I shall handle it carefully.

Some call the dragon fly a darning needle, and say it sews up people's ears when they lie on the grass. This is not true. It does not sew up anything. It has nothing to sew with.

Why should it want to sew up people's ears, anyway?

It does nothing unpleasant but bite fingers, and it never goes out of its way to do that.

If we let it alone, it always lets us alone.

It is our good friend because it catches mosquitoes. For this reason it is sometimes called mosquito hawk.

We should never kill a dragon fly.

Sometimes it is called a spindle, I suppose because it is long and slender like a spindle.

Down South the colored people believe the dragon fly brings dead snakes to life, and they call it snake doctor.

In some places it is called snake feeder.

But it has nothing to do with snakes, dead or alive.

The French have given it a pretty name, demoiselle, or damsel fly, and that is quite deserved, for the dragon fly is a graceful little creature, as pretty as pretty can be.

See, sticking out of the front of its head are two little feelers, or antennae, as we must call them.

They are very short, but it does not need long ones.

Insects smell with their feelers, you know, but our dragon flies see so well they do not need to smell very well, I suppose.

See how it can turn its head around. That is because it has a little short neck between its head and its body.

Its eyes, its mouth, and its antennae belong to its head.

Of course our demoiselle can fly well; one need only look at those wings to know that.

To fly well is quite as necessary to one of its habits as to see well.

What would be the use of seeing an insect if it could not fly fast enough to catch it?

We all like your pretty wings, little dragon fly; they look like glass and they shine so in the sun.

How fast the wings can move! See that dragon fly skimming over the pond; its wings make a whizzing sound as it darts about.

Why does it zigzag so?

Why doesn't it fly in a straight line?

Yes, Mollie, you are right, it goes zigzagging along after insects.

It sees one it wants off at one side—whizz! around it turns after it.

Shouldn't you like to fly like that, children?

And yet we would not be willing to exchange our arms and hands for wings.

We could not whittle a stick nor write a letter if we had only wings.

In fact we could not do most of the things we now do.

I am glad I have my hands.

We are glad, too, that the dragon flies have their pretty, swift wings.

They have four wings, all nearly the same size and shape, you see, and they are all stiff and shining.

Some dragon flies, like this one we have picked up, always keep their wings spread out.

But over there, standing on the end of that stick, is another kind.

When it rests its wings are folded together.

What a pretty one it is! Do you see it?

It is small, but so pretty.

It is bright blue and shines as though it had been polished.

Sometimes birds catch these smaller dragon flies, though birds, as a rule, are not fond of any of them.

They are so hard and their wings are so stiff I should think a bird might almost as well swallow nails.

I am sure no bird could swallow one of the big ones, wings and all!

But frogs can.

A frog will try to swallow almost anything it can catch, and it watches for the dragon flies when they come to lay their eggs in the water.

Suddenly it jumps out, and away goes poor dragon fly into that great wide frog-mouth.

Now look at the legs of the dragon fly. It has six.

Every dragon fly has six legs.

They are rather short and small for so large an insect, but that is because it does not need large, strong legs.

You never saw a dragon fly dig a hole, or run, or even walk, did you?

Their legs are not arranged for walking. All six of them are directed forwards as though they were reaching out after something. And so they are—reaching out after insects.

Dragon fly catches his prey while he is flying, and he grasps the insects with his feet.

He snatches one, and then what?

Does he sit down somewhere and eat it?

Not he, he is far too hungry for that; he continues his swift flight, and as he flies he eats.

As soon as he has finished one fly or gnat, zip! he snatches another.

He has an insatiable appetite, consuming hundreds of insects in the course of a day. Nor does he confine his attention to flies and gnats and mosquitoes and such small fry. He catches what he can. A large dragon fly will even gorge himself on one of the large-sized butterflies, and one has been seen calmly chewing away at an enormous wasp!

No, indeed, Mabel, the dragon fly does not eat the wings of the butterfly, it eats only the soft body.

Probably nothing eats a butterfly, wings and all. Birds and insects sometimes catch butterflies, and you often see the bright wings lying on the ground. The wings of insects are not worth eating, and are almost always cast aside by the creatures that eat the insects.

Besides catching insects with their legs, the dragon flies cling fast to things with them, but when they wish to move they do not walk, they fly.

Yes, indeed, Frank, you are right; their legs are jointed.

That is so they can move them easily and fold them up when they want to.

They would find it as hard to get along without joints to their legs as we should.

Wouldn't we be stiff if we had no joints!

See, the legs and wings are fastened to the middle part of the body, the thorax, we call it.

All insects have the legs and wings attached to the thorax.

The rest of the body is the abdomen. See how long it is.

It is the long abdomen that gives the dragon fly its name of spindle, I suppose.

The abdomen is jointed, and it can curl up.

All grown-up insects have a head, a thorax, and a jointed abdomen.

* * * * *

What are you looking at, Charlie?

Something moving in the bottom of the pond?

Let us get it out.

Here, we will dip it out with this cup.

What a lot of stuff!

Sticks and mud—and—what is that?

Something alive, surely.

Let us put some clean water in the cup and examine what we have found.

My! my! what a queer little thing!

What do you suppose it is?

Ah, I know now, but I do not think you could ever, ever guess, not if you tried a week.

It is a young dragon fly!

It does not look much like its shiny-winged parents.

It looks like I don't know what, with a face like—well, when you look right in front of it, like a pug dog.

Queer! Well, I should think so! What is that, Amy? Am I sure it is a dragon fly?

Yes, there is no mistake; a dragon fly one day dropped an egg in the pond, and out of it hatched—this.

It will some day become a shiny-winged dragon fly and catch mosquitoes.

We will call it larva, and we will watch it a little while.

Look and see if it has a head, a thorax, and an abdomen.

Are there antennae on its head? And has it eyes?

If you were to look at its eyes with a microscope, you would find that they are made of six-sided facets, like the eyes of the grown-up dragon fly.

They are compound eyes, but they are not as large as the eyes of the grown-up dragon fly.

How many legs has it? What are its legs fastened to?

Yes, Nellie, thorax is right.

Its six legs are fastened to its thorax. I am glad you remembered thorax.

Has it a jointed abdomen? and has it wings?

Look! did you see that?

It opened its innocent-looking face all of a sudden, just darted it out into a long-handled spoon, with hooks at the end, and hooked up that little grub.

Now it is holding the grub on the hooks in front of its mouth and eating it as greedily as if it were half starved.

So that is why its face looks so queer.

It is its long under lip all folded up in front like a mask that makes it look like a pug dog.

When it pleases it darts out that lip, and any unlucky insect or snail may fall a prey to its greedy appetite.

It is said that the larvae of some dragon flies even eat pollywogs and small fishes.

Ned wants to know if "larvae" means the same as "larva."

Yes, it is the plural form of the word. When we speak of only one we say "larva"; when we speak of more than one, instead of saying "larvas," we say "larvae."

The dragon fly larvae are terrible gluttons, and hidden under the mask are strong jaws for chewing up their prey.

Their legs are quite large and strong, too, for they crawl about the bottom of the pond or up the stalks of the plants.

They do not move about very fast, but they do shoot out that under lip very, very, very fast indeed, so good-by to any little live thing in the pond that comes within reach of it.

The dragon fly larvae do not all look alike. They are different in the different species of dragon flies, and, like the rest of us, they change as they grow older.

Yes, May, you can keep the dragon fly larvae until they change into dragon flies.

You must supply them with fresh water and with enough to eat.

And you must put a net over the bowl or aquarium in which you keep them, otherwise as soon as they are able they will fly away.

How can they fly without wings?

Oh, but they are going to have wings. You know they are young dragon flies in spite of their strange appearance.

Be sure and feed them enough, or else they will eat each other, and that would be a pity; and be sure there are some water plants for them to hide under and crawl upon.

You can give them a little fresh fish or a tiny bit of very fresh meat, though they like best the living things they find in the bottom of the pond.

When the dragon fly larva first hatches it is very small and its legs are rather long and spidery, but it eats and eats and eats,—my, how it eats!

And it grows and grows, and one day it finds its skin too tight.

A tight skin must be rather uncomfortable.

But the larva does not care much for its skin.

It merely splits it open down the back and pulls itself out.

Perhaps you think it must be yet more uncomfortable to be without a skin.

But it is not without a skin. It is covered by a new and soft one that soon hardens, and that is larger than the old one.

It wriggles out of its old skin as though it were an old coat, and leaves it clinging to the weeds in the pond.

Sometime you may find these cast-off dragon fly overcoats.

After it has shed its skin the dragon fly continues to grow. It keeps on growing until it has outgrown its new skin.

Then what do you think it does?

Yes, Charlie, that is right, it sheds this skin too.

When it sheds its skin we say it moults.

It moults several times, and at last little short wings appear. At first it has no wings at all, you know.

Amy wonders how the larva breathes under water.

Ah, Master Ned, you are laughing too soon. You think insects do not have to breathe, but you are very much mistaken, sir.

Insects do have to breathe.

They would die if they could get no air to breathe.

Some of the dragon fly larvae have an odd arrangement for breathing under water. They have a sort of syringe in the end of the body, and there are breathing pores or gills in the syringe.

The water goes in and out of this syringe, and the larva breathes as the fish does, by means of its gills.

Yes, May, its gills are in its syringe, which seems very odd,—you see the dragon fly larva breathes at its tail end instead of at its head end.

Mollie thinks it is an upside-down, inside-out sort of a creature anyway. But it knows what it is about.

Ned wants to know how it can get any air to breathe when it lives under water.

The truth is, there is always air mixed in with water, and it is this air the larva breathes when the water goes in and out of the syringe.

It uses the syringe for another purpose too. When it pleases it can shoot out the water with great force, and thus propel itself quite a distance.

By means of the syringe it can leap through the water faster than it can move by its slow-going legs.

Mollie wants to know if we can see the syringe.

No, it is inside the body.

But there is a kind of dragon fly that has a pair of gills outside, at the end of the abdomen, instead of the syringe inside.

The best I can do is to show you a picture of one. Some day we may find it in the pond.

Those two feather-like parts at the tail end are gills.

Yes, John, it can propel itself through the water by rowing, as it were, with these gills.

There are some species of dragon fly larvae that swim by moving the tip of the abdomen from side to side, as a fish moves its body when it swims.

But now let us return to our funny larva that lives at the bottom of the pond. It stays down there, eating and growing and moulting, for nine or ten months or even longer; then something very wonderful happens.

It suddenly feels a great desire to get up to the top of the pond.

It climbs up a weed or a stick until it is clear out of the water.

Then its skin splits down the back for the last time, and out there pulls itself, not a larva, but a weak-looking dragon fly, with soft and flabby little wings.

Now is its hour of danger, and now is the time for such birds as like the taste of young dragon flies to help themselves.

Catbirds seem to have a special fondness for these helpless insects, and have been known to eat them before the flabby little wings had grown stiff.

If the birds do not find the newly emerged dragon fly, it remains motionless an hour or so, but it does not remain unchanged.

Its wings stretch out and harden.

Bright metallic colors begin to play over them and over its body; and all at once—off it darts, away and away, glittering in the sunshine, a swift, beautiful winged creature.

Towards the end of summer you will often see dragon flies darting about in every direction.

They seem to come in swarms and I think they usually come where there are ponds or marshes, for in such places there are many gnats and mosquitoes.

Mollie wants to know why it would not be a good plan for people who live where there are many mosquitoes to raise dragon flies?

That is a very sensible idea, Mollie, and it has been tried.

Yes, indeed; some men once collected dragon fly larvae, and took care of them until they changed into dragon flies.

Then what do you think happened?

As soon as they got their wings, away went those dragon flies,—away and away, without stopping to catch a single mosquito for the men who had taken the trouble to raise them.

The dragon flies will not stay at home.

They fly so fast and so far there is no use raising them.

They are among the swiftest and strongest of insects.

How do the larvae get in the ponds? Frank is asking.

I will tell you what I know about it.

The winged dragon flies mate, and the female then drops her eggs in the water or lays them on twigs in the water, where they hatch out into larvae.

The dragon flies have to be very careful when they go close to the water to lay their eggs.

You all know why.

Yes, it is because the frogs are on the watch to catch them.

The mother dragon fly knows the larvae have to live in the water, and so she takes pains to put the eggs there; sometimes she even crawls down under the water on stems of plants to lay her eggs. Isn't she a wise little mother?

There are a good many species of dragon flies.

Some are large and some are small.

Some are bright and some are dull.

There are black ones and bright blue ones, or green ones with blue eyes.

Some are marked with red and yellow.

They are a very gay family.

The dragon fly family is also a very old one.

Indeed, it is one of the oldest families on earth.

Long before there were bees or butterflies or dogs or horses or human beings, there were dragon flies.

Don't you suppose that may be why the dragon fly is such a strange-looking insect?

It does not look like other insects; it is very old-fashioned, like the pine trees.

Pine trees, too, belong to a very old plant family that lived long ago, before there were oaks or maples, or other trees that shed their leaves.

Now we must go home.

Good-by, green frog, you may come back to your log now.

Good-by, pretty dragon fly people, we shall never forget you.

Good-by, pleasant pond and moss-grown log, we hope to see you often again.


Come, children, and see! Hundreds and hundreds of them are dancing about.

What are they? Yes, May, they do make us think of the dragon flies, but they are like fairy demoiselles.

They are the May flies, fairy ships sailing in the sea of air.

See how they are tossed about.

Many have fallen to the ground, which is covered with them.

They live but a day, or sometimes only a few hours, and so they are called day flies, and also ephemerae, which means short-lived.

They have eyes, as you can see, little round eyes, but their mouth is so tiny they cannot eat.

Strange little beings to come into the world so helpless!

How different from the strong, fierce dragon flies!

See their dainty little legs. Six, you see, and legs and wings grow out from the thorax.

Have they an abdomen?

See the long threads at the end of it, they look like slender tails. How they spread these threads out as they fly!

They have four wings, but the wings are not shaped like those of the dragon fly, and they are very much more delicate.

Yes, May, I agree with you, they look like fine lace.

The fore wings, you see, are larger than the hind ones.

Richard asks, "Where do May flies come from? and why are they called May flies?"

Now, Richard, one question at a time, if you please, and the last shall come first because it is easier to answer.

They are called May flies because they often come out in the month of May, though sometimes not until June, and some species are as late as July in appearing.

We shall have to look into the ponds and little streams to discover where they come from.

See, John has scooped up some little speckled grubs out of the mud. Is it possible that they are the larvae of our fairy May flies? They have a mouth!—see what big jaws for such little creatures.

And what do you suppose they eat?

No doubt they, too, live on animal food.

No doubt they move about in the mud and catch what they can.

You see, John had to dig them up; they like to burrow in the weeds and mud, and some of them even make tunnels of mud in which to protect their soft bodies. Their short, stout legs enable them to dig well.

Their bodies are soft, but their jaws are not. O dear, no!

The grown-up May flies mate, and then the female drops her eggs on the surface of the water. When she does this a fish will very often jump up and seize her, for fish are very fond of May flies, and lucky are the May flies to escape these ravenous enemies.

The eggs are heavy and sink to the bottom, where they hatch into these queer-looking larvae that eat and grow and shed their skin just like the dragon fly larvae.

Those brushes along their sides are the gills they breathe with.

See the gills moving swiftly back and forth; they look as though the larva wished to swim with them, but this is not why it moves them so constantly.

The continual motion of the gills stirs up the water and keeps our larva supplied with fresh air.

Nellie is asking what gills are.

Well, gills in fishes and in such insects as have gills, and in crabs and lobsters and other creatures that live in the water, are parts that often look like fringes or flat plates.

The gills of fishes have a great many blood vessels running through them. The walls of these blood vessels are very thin, and the oxygen from the air that is in the water passes into the blood that is in the gills, and then this blood, all full of oxygen, circulates through the fish's body.

You see in fishes the blood vessels come into the gills and get the oxygen.

In insects it is different. There are air tubes running like tiny pipes all through the gills and into the body of the insect. The oxygen of the air that is in the water passes out through the walls of these tubes into the blood of the insect.

Yes, John, in fishes the blood comes to the air, in insects the air goes to the blood. The air passes into the air tubes of the insects, and thus is carried all through their bodies.

The blood takes the oxygen out of the air.

Without oxygen in the blood no animal could live.

Now let us go back to our May flies. They remain in the larval state a year, and some species remain two years. Think of living in the mud for two long years!

In the mud they creep about, eating, eating, eating. Then some summer day they leave the mud and swim to the surface of the water.

Pop! they are gone.

They were so quick about it we could not see what happened.

The larval skin burst open and forth leaped the May fly, like a winged fairy from a prison cell.

They do not come out slowly and wait for their wings to dry like the dragon fly.

They spring out all of a sudden and fly away, leaving their cast-off skin in the pond.

Unless their motions were quick they might be snapped up by the fish that are so fond of them.

But though they seem to emerge thus quickly into perfect winged May flies, they are not quite done with infancy. They are still wrapped about by a very delicate skin that they have to get rid of. So they fly to a bush near the water and stay a little while until this skin splits and comes off, and they are free.

In spite of their quick motions when they spring from the water, many of the May flies fall back into it and are caught by the fish.

It is said that the trout become fat and good-flavored when the May flies emerge, they eat so many of them. And what the fish do not catch the birds try to. Swallows and other insect-loving birds have a glorious feast when the May flies come out. For a season they live in the midst of more delicacies than they can possibly use.

Fish like the May fly larvae, too, which is probably the reason the larvae have learned to live in the mud, out of reach.

Fishermen dig up the larvae for bait, so you see the May flies have a hard time to get safely through the world.

But in spite of difficulties a great many of them live, and some summer day out they come trooping.

They spring all at once from the surface of the water as by magic, hundreds and thousands, yes, millions of them. They fill the air, they cover everything.

The great naturalist Swammerdam, who was the first to make a thorough study of the May flies, thus tells us how they appeared in France one year:—

"I then saw a sight beyond all expectation. The ephemerae filled the air like the snowflakes in a dense snowstorm.

"The steps were covered to a depth of two, three, or even four inches. A tract of water five or six feet across was completely hidden, and as the floating insects slowly drifted away, others took their places. Several times I was obliged to retreat to the top of the stairs from the annoyance caused by the ephemerae, which dashed in my face, and got into my eyes, mouth, and nose."

These swarms of May flies appear only from three to five days at a time.

Wherever there are streams there are May flies, and the canals of Holland make good breeding places for them; no wonder, then, the Dutch, who you know live in Holland, have a saying, "As thick as May flies."

Although so many of the May flies perish at once, multitudes of them drop their eggs into the water to renew the race of May flies.

Is it not wonderful that after so long a period of creeping about in the mud as larvae, these graceful and beautiful little creatures have but a few hours in which to dance joyously about in the upper air on wings of gossamer? Some, indeed, live less than an hour, and some, that come out in the evening, finish their dance of life and perish before sunrise, without ever having seen the beautiful daylight.

Yes, strange little beings are they.

They do us no harm and we should not kill them.

Let them live their short lives and be happy.


John has been fishing.

What do you think he caught?

Nary fish, my dears, but a goodly number of stone flies, which he has brought to show us.

Yes, Mollie, they do remind us a very little of our May flies, only, of course, they are many times larger.

It is rather a clumsy creature in spite of its large wings, and John says he had no trouble whatever in catching it.

See, it has four wings, and the hind ones are the larger.

Yes, May, they fold up in plaits, like the sticks of a fan.

See its long antennae and its compound eyes. Its eyes are not so large as are those of the dragon fly. It does not spend its time pursuing other insects, but is more like the May fly after it gets its wings.

Yes, Ned, it lives longer than the May fly, but it does not live very long, and it eats little.

It is a pretty little gray thing as it rests on the side of John's box, with its wings folded like a gossamer cloak over its body.

It lays its eggs in the water, and out of them hatch little six-legged larvae that are not troubled by want of appetite. If the winged stone fly does not eat, its larva does; it is like the other larvae we know, always devouring something.

Yes, Charlie, it feeds on living creatures, greatly relishing the larvae of the May flies, or any other luckless insect infants it can capture.

It grows fast and moults several times, and when winter comes it hides away, only to come forth at the first breath of spring and continue its eating.

Like other larvae that live under water, it does its breathing by means of gills, and these gills are in little tufts just above the base of each leg.

It lives under stones, which is why it is called the stone fly, and it slides quickly around a corner when you lift up its stone.

Fish are very fond of it, and hunt it as eagerly as it hunts larvae. Since it makes good bait for brook trout, its life is always in danger. It finishes its growth in early summer, and emerges from its larval skin as a perfect winged insect.

Yes, indeed, John, you can often find dozens of the cast-off skins of the stone flies along the brook sides in the month of June.

The stone flies are harmless little people, and we should never kill one needlessly.


May has something here for us to look at. She says it is a slippery rascal. Let us see it. Oh, yes, you have it in that little box. See, the box has a glass top. May cut the top off the box herself, and fastened in a little pane of glass so we could see the rascal without danger of its escaping.

Pretty rascal! Like a little silver fish slipping about the box.

Yes, Charlie, it is called the silver fish. A land fish? Why, yes, it would be a land fish if it were a fish at all. But in spite of its name it is no fish. It is covered with shining scales, though, that are very much like fish scales, and it is shaped a good deal like a fish.

Oh, yes, it is an insect. You see it has six legs. But it has no wings.

No, it is not a young one.

It never will have any wings, no matter how old it may get to be.

It is flat, you see, and its scales make it very slippery, so that it is hard to catch and yet harder to hold on to after you have caught it. It goes flashing about like a little silver dart, and it loves to eat starch.

That is why May calls it a rascal. It eats the starch from the paste that fastens on her wall paper, and from book-bindings, so you see it makes things fall to pieces. But my! what a pretty rascal it is! Besides its name of silver fish, it is also called fish moth, though it is not a moth at all. It is also called bristle-tail, because of the long, bristle-like parts at the end of its body; and in some places it is called a slink, because, you know, it loves dark places, and when you uncover it in the daytime, it slips around a corner into the dark again.

Yes, it seems to slink about as if it were ashamed of itself, but it is not ashamed; it does not like the light, and it does not like us to see it.

Perhaps it is afraid of us.



Children, here is a cockroach.

It was one of the first insects that came to live on the earth; cockroaches were here before people, and they are here yet.

You do not think it is pretty?

Neither do I.

I don't know anybody who thinks a cockroach pretty.

Oh, no, it won't bite you.

It will only get into your pantry and eat your food.

It will walk around in the night and frighten you if you go suddenly into the kitchen.

It will not frighten you on purpose, but when it hears you coming, it will run, and then maybe you will scream and run too.

What is that, May? You've a good mind to scream and run as it is?

Very well, scream and run if you want to; the cockroach won't care.

We do not often see these big black fellows in the North, but sometimes we do. Down South cockroaches seem to be everywhere.

What, May? You are never going South, then?

Well, you do not need to go; the cockroaches won't care.

They have little heads and long antennae, like threads.

What is that, May? You don't care anything about their heads? You don't want to know anything about cockroaches?

Oh, yes, you want to know about cockroaches. Remember how old they are.

They have six legs, you see.

You don't care how many legs they have?

Oh, yes, you do. They could not walk if they had no legs.

You wish they couldn't walk?

Dear me, May; you don't seem to like cockroaches.

Poor old cockroaches.

Think how old they are.

What is that you say? They are old enough to know better?

Why, May, what have they ever done to you?

Nothing, only you don't like them?

Well, well, they don't like you, either. Poor old cockroaches; nobody seems to like them.

Perhaps they don't care.

Will you let me tell you where they came from?

They do not belong to this country.

Their natural home is tropical Asia.

You see, about four hundred years ago, the ships that bore fruits and other merchandise from India and other warm countries in Asia, bore, as well, a number of little, flat, reddish brown stowaways.

Stowaways, as you know, are people that do not buy their tickets, but that hide among the ship's cargo, and so get free transportation to other countries.

Well, these little flat stowaways were not human beings, they were insects. Yes, May, they were the cockroaches.

When they landed from their hot land of Asia in cold England, they must have wondered what was to become of them. Many of them no doubt died, for they cannot stand cold weather at all; but some of them were carried, with the fruits and other things, quite unintentionally, of course, for nobody guessed they were there, into warm cellars and kitchen cupboards.

Then they felt at home!

They knew better than to leave the cosey nooks where they could hide away and sleep all day, and when they came out at night would find a delicious supper close at hand.

They are great eaters, you know, so what with the good things in the pantry and the warmth of the kitchen quarters they prospered wherever they could find a kitchen to live in.

Soon they spread all over the large cities of England and finally into even remote country districts.

Of course they found their way to the United States of America, and in many houses in the North they have taken lodging. But down South, where it is always warm enough, they have prospered greatly, and they are there in far greater numbers than in the North.

Besides, there is a large American cockroach that belongs to tropical America, but that has found its way pretty well over the country. And there are cockroaches that live in the woods, some of them coming in the night to visit our houses and help themselves from our pantries.

Yes, Mollie, the cockroaches eat almost anything they can find, and what they do not eat they spoil by an ill-smelling liquid they give out when disturbed.

It is this liquid that makes the cockroaches so very offensive to us. We cannot bear to touch one because of it.

Cockroaches eat one variety of food that nobody objects to their having. They are fond of bed bugs and greedily devour them.

Besides the large, dark, reddish brown cockroaches there is a little tan-colored fellow that is often very troublesome.

It is not a native of this country, but is supposed to have been brought to England by soldiers from the Crimea, and later it found its way to America.

We call it the croton bug, but it is not a bug at all, it is a cockroach.

It is particularly numerous about water pipes, and, like the rest of the cockroaches, it hides in the daytime.

At night out troop crowds and crowds of the little tan-colored water bugs. They run about the floor, and over the pantry shelves. They get into everything they can find, and have a beautiful time.

They are funny little fellows, and if they were not so troublesome, we might admire them.

How they can run!

All the cockroaches run very fast, so that it is hard to catch one. And they are hard and smooth, too, which makes it yet more difficult to catch them. They are well made to escape their enemies, and they are so flat they can hide in cracks or almost anywhere.

No, May, they do not fly very much. You see this one has short wings. It is a male cockroach. The female of this species of cockroach has no wings at all, only little hints of wings, as it were.

Such little useless wings we call "rudimentary" wings.

John says he thinks that is a long word for short wings.

Yes, but it is not a hard word,—ru-di-ment-ary, see if you can remember it.

The croton bugs have longer wings and they sometimes fly.

If you were to spread out the wings of a cockroach, you would find it had four.

What is that, May? You wouldn't spread them out for anything?

Yet wise men have been very much interested in our poor, ill-smelling old cockroaches, and have studied carefully all about them.

If you dislike to touch the cockroach so much, perhaps you will look at this picture of a croton bug.

See, the upper wings are different; the cockroach does not fly with them, he merely uses them to cover up the under wings, and we call them wing covers.

It is the under wings the cockroach flies with.

Cockroaches may not be pleasant, but who can say they are not interesting?

What other insect lays its eggs in little bandboxes?

Here is one of the little boxes, shiny and hard.

This little case is at first a sticky substance that soon hardens. The eggs lie in it side by side in two rows.

These cases remain attached to the abdomen of the female cockroach until the eggs are all laid. Then the case falls off, and soon out runs a crowd of infant cockroaches.

The case is something like a satchel that shuts with a spring. The youngsters are packed close together, side by side, with their heads towards the mouth of the satchel.

As soon as one hatches it pushes open the side of the case and creeps out. Then the case springs together again to protect the rest of the brood.

They are funny fellows when they first come out, little and white-looking. But they eat and grow of course, and shed their skins, and after each moult they become darker in color.

Now, do look again at this cockroach I have taken such pains to catch for you and put into the tumbler.

I think even May will own that it has a cunning little head.

See it turn its head around to look at us.

After all, the cockroach is a knowing little fellow.

This one is hungry; it has had nothing to eat for some time. We will give it this crumb of cake.

Be careful, or it will get away; it can run very fast, and it is very quick, you see, in all its motions.

Ah, it is examining the crumb with the tips of its long antennae.

See how daintily it touches the crumb.

It can smell with its antennae, you know.

Now it has decided the cake is good to eat.

See how eager it is!

It almost stands on its head to reach just the part it wants.

John says he does not understand how insects smell with their antennae.

I can tell you a little about it, John.

If you look at one of the cockroach's antennae under the magnifying glass, you will see it is made up of a good many short pieces, or segments, as we call them, fastened together end to end.

Yes, Mollie, that is why it can move about so easily. It can curl up like a whiplash, you see.

Next the head is a round segment that fits into a socket.

Double up your right fist and fit it into the half-closed palm of your left hand.

There! That is like the ball-and-socket joint.

You see you can move your fist around in all directions.

The insect can move its antennae in all directions because they are fastened to its head by ball-and-socket joints.

On the segments of the antennae, particularly towards the tip, are little dots.

You cannot see the dots without the help of a strong microscope, but they are there.

These little dots are sensitive spots. There is a nerve coming from the insect's brain to each dot.

Some of the dots are sensitive to odors, just as the nerves of our nose are sensitive to odors.

May thinks it is very funny that the insects smell with antennae instead of with noses.

The insects, no doubt, would think it very funny for us to smell with, noses instead of with antennae, if they thought about it at all.

The little dots on the antennae are extremely sensitive to smells. They are often much more sensitive than our noses.

Put a bit of food at some distance from a hungry cockroach, and it will not be long before a pair of long, sensitive feelers will come waving to and fro out of some dark corner.

Little Mrs. Cockroach has smelled the dainty morsel, and, as soon as it is dark, out she will run, her feelers moving eagerly this way and that, until she has found it.

Yes, May, insects also feel with their antennae. That is why the antennae are often called "feelers."

There are other dots on the segments that are sensitive to touch. Sometimes there are tiny hairs on the antennae, also sensitive to touch.

The little fellows feel and smell, yes, and oftentimes hear with their antennae.

Many insects have spots sensitive to sound on the antennae.

Yes, indeed, May, it is wonderful that such tiny threads as an insect's antennae should hold so many kinds of sensitive spots.

An insect's antennae are among the most wonderful things in the world.

And I think a cockroach, in spite of its bad reputation, is a very wonderful little fellow.

What is that, May? Our cockroach is drawing one of its antennae through its mouth?

Ah, yes, see it clean its antenna, children.

It seems to nibble at it as it draws it through its mouth.

Insects are very careful to keep their antennae clean.

It would not do to let these sensitive spots become covered with dust, you know.


Isn't this a pretty place to sit down and—

"Ouch! ow! ow! ow!"

Why, May, what is the matter?

Anybody would think you had seen a cockroach.

What has she found, John?

Oh, it is a walking stick!

Why do I call it that?

Look and see.

Does it not look like a stick?

And does it not walk?

Then why is not walking stick a good name for it?

May thinks its legs look like a collection of pine needles, for they are green and flat on the upper joints.

It is as pretty as it is queer, with its brown body and its green legs.

This is the male walking stick; the female has brown legs. She is brown all over, just the color of dried leaves, and she is not as slender as her mate.

Mollie thinks it is the long and slender thorax that makes the walking stick look so queer.

See its thorax. Its six legs are attached to its thorax, which is as long and as slender as the abdomen.

John thinks it looks queer because everything about it is so long and slender.

Long antennae, long legs, long thorax, long abdomen—that is Mr. Walking Stick.

Sir, why do you have such long antennae? Can you hear and feel and smell extra well because of them?

I wish you could tell us about them.

Now where is it?

Oh, yes, it is standing on that brown twig. It is so nearly the color of the twig and so much the shape of a little stick itself, that it is not easy to find it.

There, it is walking off again.

It has a good name, for I am sure that if a stick tried to walk, it could not do it more awkwardly.

See now, what it is doing, hanging by one foot from that twig.

How still it is.

Who would imagine, seeing it thus for the first time, that it was a living creature?

The walking sticks feed on leaves, and I suppose their queer shape and their color protect them from being eaten by birds.

A bird would have to be very close to a walking stick to tell it from a twig.

The female drops the eggs on the ground, and leaves them to hatch out and make their way in the world as best they can.

The young walking sticks look just like their parents, only of course they are very small, and they are green in color, like the leaves they eat.

Yes, little Nell, I should like to find some too; they must be cunning little things.

They eat and grow and moult, and eat and grow and moult, until they are grown up.

There are a good many species of walking sticks in the world, particularly in hot countries; and to their family belong the longest of known insects, some being nearly a foot long. Just imagine a walking stick a foot long!

And some of them are quite prettily colored, though certain species are not pleasant to handle, as they give forth a bad-smelling milky fluid when disturbed.

They are gentle little folk, all of them, and move slowly about over the leaves and twigs, not wishing to harm any living thing.

Some members of the walking stick family have wings, and these are even more curious than those that have none.

Their wings and legs are flattened to look like leaves, so that it is very difficult to find them among the foliage.

Yes, May, they are also the color of the leaves they live among.

Here is a picture of one that will give some idea of these strange little people.

We have none of these leaf-like insects in our country, but we do have a near relative to the walking sticks, though it does not feed on leaves, I assure you.

How many of you are acquainted with his lordship, the praying mantis?

Charlie says he has seen these fellows in Kansas, and Nellie says she has a cousin in the South who has told her about them.

Here is a picture of one; is it not a beauty!

Its wings are green and its body is brown, so that it can stealthily creep about among the foliage without being noticed.

When at rest it holds its front legs up as though it were raising its arms in an attitude of devotion.

But not a thought of devotion lies in that cruel little head. There is only one idea there; and if any unwary insect were to come along, those devotional arms would be thrust out with incredible rapidity, and the unfortunate insect clasped tightly in them.

Then the mantis, hugging its prey in the strong trap-like clasp of its spiked legs, would coolly proceed to devour it alive, eating it as a boy would eat an apple.

This praying mantis is called a "mule-killer" in the South, where the people think the brown liquor it spits out of its mouth, when disturbed, is fatal to mules.

The mantis is also called a devil-horse, a rear-horse, a camel-cricket, and many other names inspired by its outlandish appearance.

Some have even thought it looked wise, standing in that knowing attitude with extended arms, and so it has been called prophet and soothsayer, as though it could foretell what is going to happen.

Undoubtedly it never foretells anything but the approaching death of some insect and possibly a coming change in the weather, for insects often know when the weather is going to change long before we do.

Although our mantes are brown or green, there are a great many species living in hot countries that are much more brightly attired; and when you find yourself on a visit to the tropics, you must look for the flower mantis.

It mimics in color the brilliant hues of the showy orchids in which it hides.

It does not seem to wear its gorgeous robes from a love for the beautiful, however, but rather that it may the better lie concealed in the heart of the gay flowers, to pounce upon unsuspecting insects that come there for refreshing draughts of honey.

In some parts of Africa the mantis is worshipped by the natives, and in France these fellows are believed to point out the way to travellers by stretching out one leg when questioned.

Its strange attitude, with uplifted arms, has won the mantis regard in all parts of the world, though the insects it clasps in these uplifted arms would not be likely to share the good opinion held of this hardy cannibal.

For it is a cannibal, and enjoys eating another mantis as much as anything else.

The mantes are terrible fighters, too, and if there is a meeting between two of them, there is very apt to be a battle in which one is vanquished and devoured by the other.

Our mantis lays its eggs, thirty or forty in number, on tree twigs, and they are embedded in a soft substance that soon becomes very tough and horny. These strange egg-cases of the mantis are easily recognized because they look as though they were braided on top, as you can see in the picture.

Yes, May, the tough covering is to protect the eggs from wet and from prying birds and hungry insects.

The young mantes are similar to their parents, only they have no wings. But they hold up their spiny front legs and catch insects, and they grow and moult in the usual way.

While we have been talking about leaf-like insects and mule-killers our walking stick has gone off.

Well, well, let him go, and good luck go with him.

I am glad you like the walking stick, children.

And now, May, let me tell you something.

This queer fellow is a very near relative of your friend, the cockroach.


Don't you often wonder where they come from? The swarms of grasshoppers in the late summer?

Charlie says he walked across a field last night where he believes there were as many grasshoppers as there were blades of grass.

Just think of it! and yet they do not seem to do any harm.

In some places, however, they do a great deal of harm.

They come flying in swarms that darken the sun, and they settle on the trees and the crops and eat up every green thing. There is nothing a Western farmer dreads so much as the passing of the grasshoppers.

Grasshoppers are funny little fellows, and we like them—when there are not too many of them.

Summer would not seem quite like summer unless we heard the grasshoppers shrilling.

There are a great many species of them, and we have placed them in two divisions,—The Shorthorned Grasshoppers and The Longhorned Grasshoppers.


They have no horns, of course, but some have short antennae that stick out like little horns, and those we call shorthorned.

The right name for the shorthorned grasshoppers is locusts.

We call another insect a locust, but the shorthorned grasshoppers are the true locusts.

Some say it was these locusts that John the Baptist ate with his honey in the wilderness.

A good many people in different parts of the world still eat locusts.

They are said to be good food when roasted, but I would rather eat roasted peanuts.

Come here, little locust, and let us look at you.

Now, stand still, and show us your short "horns."

See its eyes!

Yes, May, they are compound eyes, but I do not know how many facets they have.

What a funny little rabbit face it has.

See it move its little mouth parts.

It bites bits out of the leaves and chews them up very fast.

Has it teeth? May is asking.

Well, yes, but not like our teeth. Sometime you must see the mouth parts of the grasshopper under the microscope. They are very interesting.

Mollie says the locust has a cape on.

John says the cape is the top of its thorax.

Frank has been counting its legs; he says it has six.

See it walk. It uses all six legs to walk with.

But it does something besides walk with its hind legs.

Yes, it jumps with them. How long and large they are! Now watch it jump.

See! It draws those long hind legs close up to its body, then suddenly straightens them out—and away it goes as though it had been shot from a spring board.

John says its hind legs work just like a spring, and so they do. It can leap several times the length of its body. Amy thinks it should be called a grass-jumper instead of a grasshopper.

Suppose we all look carefully at the locust's long hind leg, segment by segment.

What, John? You do not know what a segment is?

Well, a segment is the part between two joints. The joints are where the leg bends, you know.

May proposes that we draw a picture of the long hind leg.

It will be fun to try.

There are two tiny segments close to the body.

If you are not careful, you will find only one.

You must look sharp to see both of them.

How well Charlie has drawn his! He has both the little segments.

The one next the body we will mark I, and we will call it the coxa.

The next little one we will mark II, and that we will call the trochanter.

The long, strong one, III, we will call the femur.

The next one, long and narrow, we will mark IV, and call the tibia.

All the rest of the leg, made of several short segments, we will call the tarsus, and we will mark it V.

Now how are we to remember all those hard names?

Here is a jingle that perhaps will help us:—

Coxa first, and then trochanter, Number three the femur stands, After this, the long, straight tibia, And last of all the tarsus comes.

Now let us see who can learn it first.

Charlie says we are taking a good deal of trouble over the hind legs of a grasshopper.

Very true, Mr. Philosopher, but let me tell you something.

When we have learned the names of the segments in the grasshopper's hind leg, we have learned the names of the segments in the legs of all insects.

You see all the legs are made on one common plan, and it is very convenient, as you will soon see, to have the parts named.

What a fine set of drawings of the grasshopper's hind leg we have!

Why do you suppose the coxa and trochanter are so small?

Yes, John, it is in order that the leg can move easily.

The grasshopper can turn its leg in almost any direction because of these small upper segments.

It can put its leg up over its head if it wants to. Next to the little coxa and trochanter is the longest and largest segment in the grasshopper's leg; I suppose nobody remembers its name.

Listen to little Nell,—"number three the femur stands."

So it does, and what a very useful femur it is!

If it were not for the long femur and the long, slender tibia, the grasshopper would not be a grasshopper—it could not hop at all.

Watch the grasshopper, and see how he uses those long segments to jump with.

First he draws the tibia close up to the femur—now he is off!

He just straightened those long hind legs out with a jerk, and away he went!

What do you suppose the two little sharp spines at the end of the tibia are for?

What, May? You did not see any spines?

Look again.

See, Charlie has drawn them very plainly in his picture of the grasshopper's leg. Mark them s, Charlie.

Now we must all look at Charlie's picture.

He says he thinks he knows what the spines are for—they are to keep the grasshopper from slipping when he makes his leap forward.

I have no doubt Charlie is right.

May wants us to look at the beautiful little hinge x where the femur and the tibia are fastened together.

Let us mark it X.

See the little ball on the end of the tibia. How well it fits into the hollow on the end of the femur.

In order to see this hollow or groove, you must look on the under side of the leg.

Yes, John, it reminds us of the ball-and-socket joint, only this is a hinge joint, and does not move in so many directions.

The tibia can move towards the femur and away from it on this hinge.

When our little friend gets ready to jump, he draws the tibia close up to the femur. When he jumps, he pushes the femur quickly away from the tibia.

If you watch the grasshoppers, you will soon understand just how they use their hind legs in jumping.

The tarsus bends easily.

It has three joints.

The last segment is a cunning little foot.

What is John doing?

He is looking at the grasshopper's foot through the magnifying glass. Wise John!

Let us all look.

Yes, Charlie, we will try to draw it.

Mollie has hers drawn already. Do not hurry too much, Mollie. You cannot draw well if you hurry.

See the sharp claw on each side of the foot.

Let us mark these claws a and b.

Between them is a flat little pad which we may as well mark c.

May says her picture looks like a crazy pond lily.

Let us see, May. Well, it is rather funny.

If I were you, I should try again. Any child can learn to draw who will keep trying.

Touch the grasshopper's foot with the tip of your finger.

How the little foot clings to you!

It clings by the two little claws that have caught in your skin, and that hold fast.

What do you suppose the little pad between the claws is for?

It is important, I can tell you.

John says he has heard there is a little pad in the fly's foot that enables it to walk on glass.

Yes, and it is the same with the grasshopper.

The little pad between the claws is fringed with hairs.

You can see them with a good magnifying glass.

Out of the tip of each hair comes a little drop of sticky liquid.

This fastens the foot to any smooth surface.

Many insects have these sticky hairs on their foot pads.

When a fly walks up a window pane, it does it by gluing its feet, one after the other, to the glass.

I don't wonder you laugh.

No, Mollie, the glue does not harden and hold it fast.

The fly can easily pull its foot loose. The grasshopper cannot walk on glass quite as well as the fly. Its foot pads do not cling so well.

Would you not like to know the name of these curious little foot pads?

We call the foot pad a pulvillus.

Some insects do not have sticky hairs on the pulvillus.

There are beetles that simply put the pulvillus so flat against a smooth surface that it stays there by the pressure of the air above.

Some people think that is the way the pulvillus on the fly's foot acts.

Perhaps it acts both ways, sucking fast and sticking by hairs.

John wants to know if the beetle's pulvillus does not act just like the "sucker" that boys make.

The sucker, you know, is a round piece of leather with a string attached to the middle.

When the leather is wet and laid flat on the floor or on a smooth stone, all the air below it is pushed out, and the air above presses so hard that a boy cannot pull the leather up from the floor.

You can peel it up from one edge and let the air under easily enough, and then a baby could lift it.

When the insect wants to move, it peels its foot loose.

It can do this very quickly.

Mollie wants to know what all these little sharp spines on the back of the tibia are for.

Let us look at them.

There is a double row of them.

Do they not look a little like a comb?

I suspect that is what they are, the grasshopper's comb.

Insects are very neat little folks.

They are always cleaning their wings and their legs and their antennae and their bodies.

The spines on their legs are very convenient for that.

Charlie says he thinks the grasshopper's legs are as good as a whole box of tools.

So they are, and you have not yet heard all they can do.

The funniest is to come.

Mr. Grasshopper sings his song with his hind legs!

He rubs the inside of his femurs against the outside of his wings.

There is a row of very fine spines down the inside of the femur for the use of the little fiddler.

He scrapes away with these on his wing covers.

Yes, Ned, his femur is his violin bow, and his wing cover is his violin.

The noise he makes does not sound much like a violin, little Nell thinks.

No, indeed, it does not.

It is the shrilling sound we hear in the grass in the summer time.

It is only the male grasshopper that sings.

The little lady grasshopper sits still and listens to him.

Now, let us look at the other legs.

The front pair are the smallest.

Can you find the little coxa and trochanter?

Yes, Charlie, we will draw the little front leg.

Let us number the segments as we did those of the hind leg.

See, the femur is larger than the other segments, but it is small as compared to the femur of the hind leg.

The tibia is shorter, too, than the tibia of the hind leg.

The little tarsus is like the tarsus of the hind leg with its claws and its pulvillus, only, of course, it is smaller.

The middle pair of legs is like the front pair, only larger.

Now, see how the legs are placed on the grasshopper's body.

The front pair are directed forward. When the insect walks, they pull.

The middle and hind legs are directed backward. When the insect walks, they push.

Well, little legs, you all have your own work to do, and you surely do it very well.

Let me see, who has front legs as odd as the grasshopper's hind legs.

Yes, Mollie, the mantis has.

Let us look again at the mantis.

Here is another picture of it.

Its hind legs are just common walking legs, you see.

And so are its middle legs.

John says they are directed forward instead of backward.

You can see why.

They have to take the place of the front legs, that do not touch the ground at all.

They have to hold Mr. Mantis up, and pull him along when he wants to walk.

Now, let us see if we can make anything out of these front legs.

The coxa is small and close to the body.

The trochanter, II, is very large and long.

Yes, Charlie, it increases the size and strength of the leg very greatly, by being thus enlarged.

The femur, III, is large and strong, too, and it has a row of sharp, spiny teeth down the inside.

The tibia, IV, is also well supplied with cruel teeth, and at the end of it is the tarsus, as you see.

You know how the mantis uses these legs. The joint between the tibia and femur is a strong hinge joint. If can shut the tibia close to the femur, the spiny teeth of the one locking into the spiny teeth of the other, and forming a terrible trap for the insects that are so unfortunate as to get caught in its merciless grip.

Altogether, you see, it is quite a terrible leg, though it has no more segments than a common leg.

The segments are changed in shape and size from the regular leg segments.

When any part is changed from the regular shape or size, we say it is modified.

The front legs of the mantis are modified to catch and hold its prey.

Yes, John, the hind legs of the grasshopper are modified too.

They are modified to jump with.

Ned says he didn't know there was so much to learn about a little thing like an insect's leg.

Yes, indeed, there is a great deal to learn about all living things.

I wonder how you would like to look at the grasshopper's wings for a little while.

Here is one with large wings.

See how they lie along each side of the body.

They come together on top like the ridge of a sloping house roof.

Yes, May, they are the roof to the grasshopper's body, and they help to protect it.

Let us gently spread them out.

Ah! these roof wings are not what the locust flies with at all.

See, folded up under them is a pair of delicate gauzy wings.

If we are careful, we can spread them out.

We will use this dead grasshopper that Charlie has found.

What pretty wings! So dainty! And how cleverly they are folded up, like little fans.

Who would imagine such delicate gauzy wings were folded away under the hard, stiff roof wings.

The roof wings are called wing covers, because they cover up these pretty inner wings.

The locust does not fly with the wing covers.

It spreads them out wide to get them out of the way.

It flies with the inner wings.

How pretty the flying wings are when they are spread out!

See, over there goes a grasshopper whose flying wings are bright yellow.

And there goes another with red flying wings.

Some of the grasshoppers are almost as pretty as butterflies when they are flying.

They show their gay inner wings only during flight.

As soon as the grasshopper comes to rest the inner wings close of themselves.

The wing joints act like springs.

The grasshopper does not have to think about shutting up its wings.

John says it has a spring in its wing covers too.

Open the wing cover.

There, it locks itself, as it were, and stays open without any effort on the part of the grasshopper.

You see the grasshopper wants its wing covers to stay open and out of the way of the inner wings when it flies.

So it just opens them, and there they are.

It moves the inner wings very fast indeed when it is flying. It would not do at all for them to be fastened open.

If it did not move them, it could not fly. The wings fairly whirr, they go so fast. They beat against the air, and thus the grasshopper is pushed along through the air.

As soon as it is done flying it stops moving the wings, and they instantly close of themselves.

Then it unlocks the wing covers and they shut down over the inner wings. They shut down very tightly. They overlap, as you can see, just below where they are fastened to the insect's body. Thus they form a very good roof.

What wonderful wings the grasshopper has!

And there is something more to be said about them.

Some species of locusts use their wings as musical instruments. When they wish to, they rub the upper end of the inner wings against the upper end of the wing covers when they are flying.

This makes the crackling sound we sometimes hear when the locusts fly.

What is that, Mollie? You have caught a locust that has no wings at all?

Who can guess why?

Ah, yes, our wise John says he thinks it is because it is a young one.

What makes you think so, John?

I know, you remembered the larva of the dragon fly and of the May fly.

Those larvae had no wings at first, but the wings grew, and finally at the last moult they were full-sized.

When first hatched, the locust larva is like the full-grown locust, only, of course, it is very small, and it has no wings at all.

It is a little dot of a thing with an enormous head.

Here are three clinging to a blade of grass.

Are they not funny little rascals!

The baby locust eats and grows and moults until, finally, the wings begin to show as little pads at its sides.

It is easy to find these half-grown grasshoppers in the middle of the summer.

Here is one that little Nell has caught.

See its wing pads.

Mollie says they are rudimentary wings.

It continues to eat and grow and moult, and the little wings are moulted off with the rest of the skin—for the wings of the insect are only modified parts of the skin.

But there are new and larger wings underneath, and these grow and are moulted off with the next skin, until, at last, the grasshopper is full-grown, with full-grown wings.

It will not moult any more after that.

When full-grown, the females lay their eggs.

Where do you suppose they lay their eggs?

Some of them make a hole in the ground.

The end of the abdomen is very strong and sharp, and the locust can make a hole with it quite easily.

When the hole is made, then the eggs are laid in it, and the locust covers the opening to the hole with a sticky substance to keep out the wet.

The eggs usually lie in the ground all winter.

Just think of the locust eggs there are under our feet as we cross the fields!

Millions and millions of little eggs are hidden in the ground.

Early in the next summer the little eggs hatch, and then tiny locusts creep up out of the earth and go hopping about everywhere.

Most of the full-grown locusts die in the fall.

As you know, the young ones have no wings, and this is why there are so few winged locusts early in the summer.

Some locusts make their holes in fence rails or in old stumps.

It is the locusts, or shorthorned grasshoppers, that sometimes come in swarms that darken the sun.

There is nothing the Western farmer dreads so much as a swarm of locusts.

I have heard how the grasshoppers came in Kansas one year.

They appeared all of a sudden in countless millions.

They were piled up against the fences clear to the top.

They swarmed into the houses, and in places on the railroad track they were piled so deep the trains could not run through them.

Think of a railway train being stopped by grasshoppers!

They stripped every leaf from the trees and left them as bare as in winter.

They ate up every blade of grass.

But in the East they do not do so much damage, though they sometimes cause the farmers serious loss. When summer comes we may listen to their cheery din with pleasure.

I am sure we shall enjoy the merry sounds of the grasshoppers all the more now that we know something about how they are made, and something about the little fellow that makes them.


Probably it was the longhorned grasshoppers that Charlie saw so many of in the meadow.

Look, next time, Charlie, and see if the swarms that start up before you have not long, slender antennae.

See, here is one.

Its antennae are like threads, and they are longer than its body.

If you were to look at its tarsus, you would find it had four joints instead of three.

Otherwise, the longhorned, or meadow grasshoppers are very much like the locusts, or shorthorned grasshoppers.

John says he thinks the meadow grasshoppers are more slender and delicate in shape.

That is true, as a rule, though there are some species of the locusts that are as slender as the longhorned grasshoppers.

But there is one thing about these longhorned fellows that will amuse you.

Some of them have ears on their front legs!

It is not uncommon for insects to have hearing organs on their front legs.

You know what an ear is. It is something to hear with. The hearing part of our own ears is way inside, out of sight.

The outer part of the ear, that we can take hold of, is only a sort of funnel to gather up the sound, and we could still hear if this part of our ears were cut off.

Way back inside the ear is a little curtain, or eardrum, made of a thin membrane.

When sounds enter the ear they cause the eardrum to tremble or vibrate, and this excites the nerve of hearing that is behind the eardrum.

Now some grasshoppers have a little flat membrane on the tibia of each front leg. It is an eardrum. Behind it is the nerve of hearing. When sounds strike the eardrum it vibrates and excites the nerve of hearing.

So you see the insects have ears, though they have no funnel-like outsides to them.

So, after all, there isn't so very much difference between the way the grasshoppers hear, and the way we hear, although they do hear with their legs.

Yes, Ned, it is about the same thing when they hear with sensitive spots on their antennae.

The sounds strike the sensitive spots, which are tiny eardrums, and cause the nerves that come to them to hear.

You see, after all, an ear is only a membrane able to vibrate when sounds strike it and a nerve sensitive to those sounds.

It does not matter much where the ear is located. Our ears are on either side of our head, and so are the ears of all the higher animals.

But the ears of the insects are more useful to them when on the antennae, or the legs, or some have them on the abdomen. An ear is an ear wherever it happens to be, and the insects hear well enough with theirs.

In many species of the longhorned grasshoppers, the male has a curious musical instrument on his wing covers, close to where they grow from the body.

Little Mr. Grasshopper sings to his lady-love by rubbing the upper parts of the wing covers together. You see the round places at X,—those are the modified parts of the wing cover, by means of which he can make his music.

What is that, May? Your grasshopper has a long sword at the end of its body?

Yes, that is its ovipositor. Ovipositor means "egg-placer."

With this long, sharp ovipositor the grasshopper can roughen the bark of twigs or make holes in the stems of plants or in the earth.

Then the eggs are guided down through the long ovipositor to the place prepared for them, and fastened there by a gummy substance.

Only the female grasshoppers have the long, sword-shaped ovipositor.

The ovipositor of the locust is not long and sword-like.

It is short, but it is strong and sharp, and you remember how the locust uses it to dig with.

Yes, indeed, Mollie, there are a great many species of locusts and grasshoppers, and some of them are very beautiful.

In hot countries they sometimes grow to an enormous size.

May is asking why they make molasses.

No, Ned, of course it isn't molasses. Children call it molasses because it looks like it.

Now, May, where does it make its molasses?

In its mouth, you say, and then it spits it out on your finger.

What? You don't like its old molasses on your finger?

No, of course not.

It smells bad, and it is sticky and disagreeable to the touch, and if you happen to put your finger in your mouth it has a nasty taste.

John says he hates to touch the grasshopper on account of this molasses.

You all do?

Well, I guess that is why it makes its molasses; it doesn't want you to touch it.

It doesn't want birds to eat it, or other insects to bother it, and so it smears them with this ill-smelling, sticky liquid.

Some birds eat it, however, in spite of its molasses.

Turkeys do.

What is that, Ned? turkeys are not birds, you think?

What are they?

If you think about it, you will have to come to the conclusion that turkeys are birds.

Then chickens and ducks and geese must be birds?

Well, so they are. They are all birds.

But to return to turkeys.

A flock of turkeys will spread out in a long line, and go across a field, driving the grasshoppers ahead of them, and eating them as fast as they can pick them up.

It is a funny sight to see a big flock of turkeys hunting grasshoppers in a meadow.

It is not funny to the grasshoppers, though.

What is that, Charlie? The grasshopper somehow reminds you of the praying mantis?

Do you know it is a near relative of the mantis?

Now, I will tell you something funny about the mantis.

It makes "molasses" like the grasshopper. Yes, it is this harmless "molasses" that has given it the name of "mule-killer."

I will tell you something else. If you lie down in the grass and watch the grasshoppers, you will have a good time, and you will see some strange things.

Nobody can tell you very much about the grasshoppers—or about the living creature. The best way is to use your own eyes and watch.

Just lie down in the grass perfectly still, and soon the insects that live in the grass will begin to appear.

What they will do you must find out for yourselves; but you may be sure it will be worth finding out,—the funny, clever, wise little people!—ah! they are good to watch.

They will soon go on chirping and shrilling and rasping and kricking and tapping and whizzing and whirring and buzzing all about you; and if you listen sharp, perhaps you can understand some of the things they say.

And this I am sure of; if you really watch and listen, you can learn to know the different insects by their sounds, just as you can know the birds by their songs. You can even tell whether you are listening to the meadow grasshopper, or the locust.

If I thought you were not tired of hearing how grasshoppers are made, I should tell you some more.

John says he would like to know some more.

Well, then, I will tell you about their rings.

You can see the rings of the grasshopper people very plainly in their abdomens.

Here is a picture of a grasshopper. It is not all drawn. The legs and wings are not shown, and the abdomen is drawn by itself so you can see it easily.

There are ten rings, you see.

The rings are covered with a hard, horny substance.

This horny substance is what makes the body of the insect so stiff. It would be soft but for the chitin, as the horny substance is called.

It is better for the insect to have a chitinous covering.

If you had no bones, you would be glad to have your skin hardened with chitin.

You see how it is, you wear your skeleton inside. Your skeleton is of bones; it is an inside skeleton.

The grasshoppers and all the insects wear their skeleton outside. It is made of chitin; it is an outside skeleton.

Insects have no bones.

They do not need any. They are kept stiff by the chitin.

Each ring in the insect's abdomen is made of four pieces, the back piece, the side pieces, and the under piece. You can see the back piece and one side piece in the picture, but you cannot see the other side piece nor the under piece without turning the insect over.

The rings are made in pieces so the insect can move.

Suppose each ring were made of one stiff piece like a finger ring. What a poor stiff, old grasshopper it would be! The rings are called segments.

Segment number one has only a back piece, you see.

All the other segments have four pieces.

Segments two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight are alike.

Segments nine and ten are modified to form the ovipositor.

The segments are fastened together by skin. The skin is soft so the segments can move back and forth.

The segments can be crowded close together to shorten the abdomen.

The segments can be separated from each other to lengthen the abdomen.

There is no chitin in the skin between the segments. It is soft so the segments can move.

Do you know how a telescope is made?

The abdomen of the insect can lengthen and shorten somewhat like a telescope.

It is easy to see the rings in the abdomen of the locust or grasshopper.

Now, what about the thorax?

That, you tell me, has no rings.

Look again, and look carefully.

You will have to see another picture.

This is a picture of the head and thorax of the grasshopper. It is drawn to show the separate parts of the thorax.

Yes, John, the thorax has three segments. They are grown so close together you would not suspect it until you looked very close.

The front legs are fastened to the first segment.

What is fastened to the middle segment?

Yes, May, the middle pair of legs and the wing covers.

Mollie says the long hind legs and the flying wings are fastened to the third or hind segment.

Oh, you funny little folks! you are all made up of rings.

Yes, indeed, little Nell, the segments of the thorax are made of chitin; they are very stiff.

Ned thinks the segments of the legs are made of chitin too.

Their outside shell certainly is.

The whole outer shell of the insect is made of the horny chitin.

You hard little chitin-covered, segmented people, you are very different from us.

Ah! yes, May, they are like us in many ways.

Indeed, Mollie, insects do have brains.

They have muscles, too, to move their little bodies with.

We have muscles under our skin, you know. The muscles move our arms and legs and bodies.

If you clasp your fingers around your arm and then move your arm, you can feel the muscles.

The insects have muscles inside their chitinous shells. The muscles move their bodies.

The muscles are very, very strong.

They are stronger for their size than the muscles of a horse.

John, do you know how heavy a load a horse can pull?

Well, it cannot pull a load equal to the weight of its own body.

Now, listen to this,—almost any insect can pull a load that is five times the weight of its body!

Ah, yes, some insects can pull a much heavier weight than that. The honey bee, for instance, can pull a load twenty times as heavy as its body.

And think how our little insect friends can jump! Why, a kangaroo cannot begin to jump like a grasshopper.

No, indeed, Ned, the finest jumper in the world of men cannot begin to jump as well as a grasshopper, not even with the aid of a spring board. He is a mere baby in comparison.

Ah, yes, we can do a great many things better than the grasshoppers, but, you see, they can do some things better than we can.

What is that, John?

You want to know about the mouth parts of the grasshopper?

Suppose we leave the mouth parts.

They are difficult to understand. We have had a good many new names to learn lately.

What, May? You can't remember such hard words?

Oh, yes, of course you can.

You don't mind learning "rhinoceros," and "Mississippi," and "Popocatepetl," and "eenie, meenie, monie mike," and they are quite as hard as femur and tibia; and, besides, you have a femur yourself! Did you know it?

Your thigh bone, like the grasshopper's thigh, is called a femur.

Yes, Mollie, there is a bone in your leg called the tibia, and you have a tarsus in your foot.

So, after all, when you are learning hard words about insects you are learning a great deal besides, as you will find.


Katy did!

Katy didn't!

Katy did!

Well, well, did she or didn't she, and what of it anyway.

Come here, Katy did and Katy didn't, the children want to see you.

She's a pretty little Did and Didn't, isn't she.

Katy, why do you not know your own mind and always tell the same story?

Krick—krick—krick, there, she is talking; that's her way of saying "Katy did."

Krick—krick—krickkrick. Now she has said "Katy didn't."

Well, we never shall know anything more about it.

No, little Nell, she doesn't really say Katy did or Katy didn't, but it sounds like that, and we make believe she says it.

John says he is sure the katydids are first cousins to the grasshoppers and locusts, and so they are.

They are very closely related to—which division of locusts, do you think?

Oh, yes, the longhorned, of course.

See their long, long antennae, and the male has the same little musical places on his wings, little membranes that vibrate and make his song of Katy did and Katy didn't.

No, the little lady katydid cannot sing—only the little male, and he keeps it up all night long.

We sometimes wish he would get tired or sleepy and stop, but he never does.

Why do you suppose he likes to sing so well in the night?

The katydids generally live on trees and bushes.

Yes, they are a beautiful, pale green people, and that is one reason we do not often see them. It is not easy to find a katydid among the green leaves.

The female katydids have a long sword-shaped ovipositor with which they roughen the bark on twigs, and place the eggs there, fastening them with a gummy substance.

The egg is glued fast so it will not fall off.

It hatches into a little dot of a katydid that has no wings, but, like the larvae of the other insects we know about, it eats and grows and moults, and at last its wings and the rest of its body are full grown.

It casts its skin for the last time; it is no longer a larva, but a full-grown insect.

Yes, May, we call the young of all insects larvae.

See this dainty katydid that Charlie has caught for us.

How pretty it is!

Its feelers are like long green threads.

And how sensitive they are!

It quickly starts away when we touch one of the feelers.

Yes, Mollie, the katydid walks more than the grasshopper.

It can jump well with those long, slender hind legs. How beautiful its hind legs are! They are longer and more delicate than those of the grasshopper.

And its wings, how gauzy and dainty! Its wing covers are not so stiff as those of the grasshopper. They look almost like flying wings, they are so delicate.

See, they open, and fasten themselves open, like the wing covers of the grasshopper; and when they are at rest they overlap like the wings of the grasshopper.

The inner wings are like fine lace.

They look too delicate for use, and yet the katydid flies very well indeed with them.

They are a little longer than the wing covers.

When the katydid is at rest you can see the tips of the wings extending beyond the ends of the wing covers.

The part of the inner wing that extends beyond the wing covers is green, like the wing covers, you see.

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